I never saw myself as a leader growing up. I was the youngest of three siblings dominated by a hierarchy. Leadership was the last thing on my mind. I became a Christian the summer I turned 15, and I knew from that day on that God was calling me into full-time vocational ministry. I did not, however, want to be a pastor, so I ran from the call for the next decade.
Running from ministry
My church experience in a Korean church youth group was not a positive one. My youth group lacked consistency in teaching and worship. Sunday services consisted of about eight youth group members, trickled with a few college students.
The average tenure of an English speaking youth pastor at our church was about six months. During my four years at that church, we went through six different youth pastors.
When I graduated from high school in 1992, I wanted to stop going to church altogether. With the newfound freedom I had as a college student, I felt that there were better ways I could be spending my time.
By God’s grace, a Korean church found me despite my efforts to run. And it was there, a group of older brothers took me under their wing and mentored me. The English ministry pastor understood the struggles that we had as Asian-American Christians, and it was a fruitful season.
After my sophomore year, the church split, and the English ministry disbanded. I was wrecked, but even through the carnage, God brought about something for His call on my life. I started teaching youth at that church, and He sharpened my skills and gifts of teaching during that time.
I graduated from college and still knew God was calling me into ministry — but I still had no intention of following His call, especially if it was to a Korean church. I was still running.
I landed a programming support job during the dot-com boom, which led to an analyst programming position at one of the best companies to work for in Canada. I was set and living the dream, but even after all that, I clearly knew in my heart that God was calling me into ministry.
Understanding the journey
I believe God let me have a taste of the professional workplace life to understand what so many Asian-Americans strive for. Even in my disobedience, God was preparing me for the calling of being an English ministry pastor.
I would encourage anyone who feels called into full-time vocational ministry to consider staying with the immigrant church. It’s a very difficult place to be due to the cultural differences and the normal stressors of being a pastor, but it’s a beautiful place to be and grow in. I truly believe that God is raising up a generation of cross-cultural and contextually savvy leaders in the immigrant church. I pray that those who are called will boldly follow.
by Jacob Park / Contributing Writer
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